We have been here many times before to this place of reflection. In the lilac bush just outside the window, sparrows begin to sing of winter, nests spun high in the gables, but here they sit, I imagine, little gray messengers, gazing while the wind swirls, while the last leaves brown as feather, drift down from trees or shuffle up for a final breath; the leaves, like gnarled old women waiting for the gaunt fist of earth to open and gather them. As this season drifts away into the annals of history, on Saturday, October 3rd, the SRL SPEARS Southwest Tour Series rolled back into town for the "Stranwold Properties 125”. Also on the calendar for the event were the Bombers, Basically-4-Cylinders on their Championship Night, and Figure 8's.
The SRL SPEARS Southwest Tour, as always, was a welcomed sight on the high banks of 99. Their last race at the Speedway back in early August was such a great race it would be a hard one to top. But, not to worry, there is so much talent behind the wheels of these touring cars, all these drivers were up for the challenge. Sacramento’s Josh Combs (7) got the lucky invert and started on pole to get this one going with veteran M.K. Kanke (33) of Frazier Park flanked to the outside. Combs grabbed the early lead only to be slowed on lap 2 as the #11 of Clovis’s Bryan Herzog and Fremont’s Troy Ermish (3) made contact drawing the first yellow on the night. On the lap 5 restart, Combs once again held point with Kanke glued to his back bumper until lap 21 when the #27 of Manteca’s Greg Potts spun off turn four which brought with it the second yellow of the night. The race went back to green with the top spots pretty much unchanged until lap 29 when Brennan Newberry (09) of Bakersfield got into the back of the #18 of San Leandro’s Todd Bammer, spinning him coming off turn two which got the attention of the flagman who proceeded with the third caution period of the race. On the lap 33 restart, Combs took command once again where he held solid, despite the constant gnawing at his back bumper by Kanke, until lap 51 when the #33 took a bite out of the #7 sending them both careening down the frontstretch and bringing out the fifth caution of the night. On the lap 54 restart, Dave Byrd (04) of Seaside inherited the point with Newberry close behind, but, on lap 68, he (Newberry) was too close as he made contact with Byrd coming out of two and the sixth yellow of the night went flying. Fortunately for Jim Pettit (03) of Prunedale, he was at the right place at the right time, after working his way through the field from P15 on the grid, he took over the number one spot and held off all challenges as he proved why he is considered one of the best by crossing below the checkers in front of a very impressive field of drivers to clinch the very popular victory in what many considered an outstanding show of talent by all involved. “My guys worked their butts off all day yesterday and today to make this thing as good as we knew it could be,” said the very gracious Pettit, “I have to thank Quentin Bammer. This is his car. We had some hardships earlier in the year and he volunteered the car to us. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t be here tonight. It just shows what you can do if you have the attitude of never giving up.” The #10 of Santee’s Mike Mendenhall finished second while Bakersfield’s Kevin Callahan (28) was on the podium in third. Kanke rebounded from the earlier incident to come home fourth with Greg Voigt (4) of Santa Barbara rounding out the top five. Earlier in the day, Mike Mendenhall set a new track record for this Division clocking in at a blistering 13.084 on the speedy quarter-mile.
After their Championship week, the Bombers were back in action just for the love of racing. And, of course, to entertain the crowd of nearly 1,200 as they have all year long. Tonight, however, with nothing on the line but a win, it was a no-holds-barred kind of night. Lisa Johnston (808) and Stockton’s Leroy Hunt (007), stepping into a new uniform this evening, brought the field around to greet the green with Johnston grabbing the early lead until lap 4 when Manteca’s Mark Borges (21) assumed the point for the next several laps, but on lap 10, Zach Rose (78) of Stockton came spinning off turn two and down the backstretch which brought out the first caution of the race. Unfortunately, for Borges, he was sent to the back for his part in the altercation. On the restart, Stockton’s Tom Dahl (4) inherited the top spot with 2009 Bomber Champion Ben Lewis II at his side. And, as has happened on many such occasions this year, Lewis took the point and held strong until lap 20 when Rose’s #78 went up in smoke attracting the second caution of the race. Lewis resumed control on the restart and once again showed why he was Champion this season as he cruised to his thirteenth victory of the year. “It took a lot of help from my dad to keep this car fast all season long,” said the soft-spoken Lewis, “I appreciate all the fans coming out this year to watch us.” Dahl would finish second while Lodi’s impressive rookie and second generation driver, Robbie Knittel (3), finished on the podium in third. Hunt dropped off a bit to finish fourth and Stockton’s Peggy Sue Jared rounded out the top five.
The Basically-4-Cylinder Division returned once again, but this time it was their turn to crown a Champion. Meager in its beginnings, this Division, much to the pleasure of the fans in the stands, has matured into a pretty decent class of racers. With only eleven points separating the top three coming into this evening, they showed why they deserve a spot on the Roster. The #1 of Livermore’s Mark Squadrito, apart from his usual attire in an ALSC, sat on pole with Modesto’s Daniel Durbin (13) alongside as Durbin grabbed the holeshot only to be overcome on lap 2 by too much Richard Hull in his #23 from Modesto. Hull would hold onto that precious territory out front until lap 12 when he was surpassed by his teammate and close friend, JD Silva (14) of Modesto. Despite heavy pressure from Hull the remainder of the race, Silva, as he usually does once out front, would continue to control the race as he crossed beneath the checkers to the sweet taste of victory. “To maintain the top spot, I had to not beat myself like I did earlier,” said the very cordial Silva, “It’s real nice to have two cars out of the same stable finish one, two. It’s been a great season and I can’t wait till next year.” Hull would hold on to finish second, which was all he needed to claim the Championship Crown in this Division. “It feels excellent to win this Championship. I had to come out here and stay ahead of my teammate, JD Silva, and I did just that,” said a very proud, but very polite Hull, ”I knew as long as I stayed on his heels, he had nothing for me. I was keeping good track on him (Silva) during the race, so I knew exactly what I had to do to win this Championship.” Rodney Lopez (16) of Pleasanton brought her home in a very close third while Modesto’s Larry Toon (88) finished fourth with Dawn Darter (99) of Manteca making up the top five.
The Figure-8’s returned to action this evening for their second appearance of the year. And with them, they brought more of that initial gut-wrenching drama to the forefront. This Division will surely become a fan-favorite, especially after what took place tonight. Robert Daniels (313) and Mark Squadrito (1) paced the field to green to get this one underway with Daniels moving quickly out front. Once there, despite the close calls at the crossing, Daniels would not be denied as he led flag to flag for the victory in what was a definite crowd-pleaser. “You just have to go through the crossing without stopping,” said Daniels of his win. As more participants get involved in the Figure-8, the more exciting and the more intense it will become. Look forward to next year being a great year for this Class.
Next Saturday, October 10th, come join us for an Open-Wheel Extravaganza with the USAC Sprints, USAC Midgets, Ford Focus Midgets, NCMA Sprint Cars, Grand American Modifieds and Powder Puff.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, ¼-mile west of Highway 99. For more information on tickets and times, please contact the Speedway Office at (209)466-9999 or visit their Website at www.stockton99.com.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is sponsored by Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel, California Welding Supply, Budweiser, and Alamo Alarm.